Soon after Muse Behi and his Kulmiye party threaten to charge President Silanyo on default
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – Though a new date is yet to set, Somaliland presidential elections shall not be held on 28th March 2017 as slated
This follows consensus reached by the Somaliland National Elections Commission-NEC and the three national political parties of ruling Kulmiye and opposition UCID and Wadani in Hargeisa.
The agreement to postpone the presidential elections is related to the drought Somaliland and other regions of the Horn of Africa are suffering from one of the driest years in memory.
The drought has also resulted in Severe shortages of food and water, along with spiraling food prices and the deaths of livestock, thus not only plunging many families into destitution but displacing voters from centers of registration .
Despite divergent views held by ruling Kulmiye which has maintained that drought should not be used as justification for postponement and Opposition UCID and Wadani that have maintained the impossibility of undertake a successful ballot exercise under prevalent circumstances, the latest meeting hosted by NEC ended in a delay consensus
Following the closed door meeting at the NEC headquarters in Hargeisa with the objective of concluding the lengthily debate on election and drought, details of discussion and subsequent decision outcome were divulged to the public at a presser by the three parties
The three party representatives who are also candidates for president namely Kulmiye’s Muse Behi, UCID’s Eng Feisal Ali Warabe and Wadani’s Abdirahman Irro informed the presser that they were in accord on three points as relates to postponing Presidential elections in lieu of the harsh circumstances within the populace as a result of drought effects.
According to leader of Ruling Kulmiye cum presidential candidate Muse Behi Abdi the severity of drought effect is factual but elections postponement is a matter that should be settled through legal process.
“Though we still maintain our position on timely elections, the drought effects have forced us to view the dates differently thence will sign a letter requesting six months postponement as per position of the opposition parties” revealed Muse Behi adding that the final decision must pass the legal process.
“As informed by Marshal Muse Behi, Candidate, Chairman and Mujahid the three national parties are finally in accord on the impossibility of elections this March” said Eng Feisal Ali Warabe
The UCID leader cum presidential aspirant added that though the two Opposition parties have always been in pursuit of promoting the country’s democratization process, the prevailing conditions within the populace induced by drought, the harshest in the Horn region in a quarter century, make the tenability of elections as slated impossible
Said he “We have not only concurred on delaying the presidential elections but on concerted national efforts towards relief efforts geared to alleviating suffering among the populace”
On the issue of legalities proposed by Kulmiye, Eng Warabe said that his party had no objection so long as the motive was to establish mechanisms for drought relief and if such the move has his and his party’s full support and backing.
As per the Wadani party it was expected that the acrimonious debate on drought cum timeline elections shall come to an end following the successful meeting between the national political parties and NEC.
“Despite our earlier disagreements, this meeting ended with unanimous acceptance that existing difficulties as a result of drought make the holding presidential elections in March this year untenable” said the Wadani presidential Candidate Abdirahman Irro.
Revealing that the ruling party’s concern on the legalities of postponeing the polls has been duly noted and acknowledged Abdirahman Irro said that consensus was that the presidential elections can only be held by mid this year at the earliest.
The ferocious debate to postpone the elections pitting the ruling party Kulmiye on one side and Opposition Wadani and UCID on the other came after NEC issued its voter card distribution assessment report undertaken nationwide.
According to the electoral body a large number of registered voters were found to be away from centers of registration especially . “We visited over 50 of our registration centers nationwide and discerned that almost 60% of registered voters are not present at the site” informed NEC adding that this absence was most acute in the east of the country where drought is severe”NEC reported
Figuratively The NEC assessment report indicated the absence of voters from their registration centers as 95%, 85%, 67% and 57% of registered voters in Sool, Sanaag, Toghdeer and Maroodi-jeeh regions respectively”
Though the commission much acclaimed for a very successful voter registration had indicated readiness to start issuing voter cards an exercise it promised to be able to complete before the 28th March election dates, and with support from ruling Kulmiye the Opposition parties of UCID and Wadani put their feet down.
Following the NEC assessment briefing Wadani’s Abdirahman Irro said, “ though we are for timely ballot the prevalent situation brought about by drought as revealed by NEC indicate that 70% of rural based voters are not available at registration centers for cards distribution
For the ruling Kulmiye whose leader Muse Behi had differed media briefing to party spokesperson Hasan Gafadi , “ The readiness of NEC should be taken advantage of and elections conducted as scheduled”
As for the UCID leader Eng Warabe the sentiment was, “Imagine holding elections without 95%, 85%, 67% and 57% of registered voters in Sool, Sanaag, Toghdeer and Maroodi-jeeh regions
Now that the argument of timely elections vis ‘a’ vis drought impact and relief efforts is over it is expected that NEC shall propose a new date which should be within six months from the original one of 28th March 2017 while the state and political parties embark on drought relief efforts.
In the meantime the acceptance of Kulmiye in delayed elections must have come as a relief to many especially within the ruling party for a day earlier its boss Muse Behi Abdi had threatened to sue President Ahmed Mahmoud Silanyo if the polls were not held on the dates slated.